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AG William Barr to skip hearing with U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Thursday – National

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AG William Barr to skip hearing with U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Thursday National

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Attorney General William Barr has informed lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee that he will skip a Thursday hearing on special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, escalating an already acrimonious battle between Democrats and the Justice Department.

Barr’s decision — he cites a disagreement over the questioning — comes the same day the department missed a committee deadline to provide the panel with a full, unredacted version of Mueller’s Russia report and its underlying evidence. Those moves are likely to prompt a vote on holding Barr in contempt, and possibly the issuance of subpoenas — bringing House Democrats and the Trump administration closer to a prolonged battle in court.


READ MORE:
Robert Mueller’s letter of complaint was ‘a bit snitty’, U.S. AG William Barr says

Even though Barr informed the panel he isn’t coming, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said he will still hold the hearing Thursday morning, raising the prospect of an empty witness chair.

“I hope and expect the attorney general will think overnight and will be there as well,” Nadler said.

As Barr refused to testify, Democrats sought to speak to Mueller himself. Nadler said the panel hoped the special counsel would appear before the committee on May 15 and the panel was “firming up the date.”

The attorney general’s cancellation meant he would avoid another round of sharp questioning after testifying Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Democrats on the panel charged that Barr was protecting President Donald Trump after he assessed Mueller’s report on his own and declared there wasn’t enough evidence that Trump had committed obstruction of justice. Mueller didn’t charge Trump with obstruction, but wrote that he couldn’t exonerate him, either.

WATCH: Barr: I offered to let Mueller read letter on my findings, he declined





The standoff with Justice Department is one of several fights House Democrats are waging with the Trump administration. Trump has vowed to fight “all of the subpoenas” as multiple committees have sought to speak with administration officials or obtain documents relevant to his policies and finances. Democrats have signaled they won’t back down and will take the steps necessary — including in court — to get the White House to comply.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she’s not interested in impeachment, for the moment. But she told The Associated Press on Wednesday that “the threat of impeachment is always there.”

Nadler, D-N.Y., and the Justice Department traded barbs shortly after Barr informed lawmakers of his decision on the hearing, with Nadler saying the attorney general is “trying to blackmail the committee” by setting his own terms. Barr had objected to the format of the hearing after Democrats decided to let staff attorneys conduct a round of questioning after lawmakers were done.

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said the staff questioning is “unprecedented and unnecessary.”


READ MORE:
Mueller didn’t like how William Barr characterized his report, and told him so in a letter: reports

Also weighing in on the matter of who would ask questions was Trump. “They want to treat him differently than they have anybody else,” the president told Fox Business Network’s Trish Regan on Wednesday night, adding, “You elect people that are supposed to be able to do their own talking.” Trump said he heard that Barr had performed “incredibly well” before the Senate panel.

It’s unclear whether Barr will eventually negotiate an appearance with the House panel. Nadler said he would not issue a subpoena for Barr’s appearance on Thursday but would first focus on getting the full Mueller report, likely including a vote holding Barr in contempt of Congress.

WATCH: Barr: FBI working to counter possible Russian interference in 2020





While a contempt vote would make a strong statement, it is unlikely to force the Justice Department to hand over the report. A vote of the full House on contempt would send a criminal referral to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia — a Justice Department official who is likely to defend the administration’s interests. But even if the U.S. attorney declines to prosecute, Democrats could pursue other avenues in court.

In a letter sent to the committee late Wednesday, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd laid out a list of reasons that the department won’t provide the full Mueller report or all the underlying evidence. Boyd said the special counsel’s investigative files include “millions of pages of classified and unclassified documents, bearing upon more than two dozen criminal cases and investigations, many of which are ongoing.” Boyd also reiterated that the department would not disclose secret grand jury material, another battle that could end up in court if Nadler decides to fight it.


READ MORE:
READ: Full text of Mueller’s letter to Barr criticizing report summaries

The Justice Department has already made a less-redacted version of the report available for a small number of lawmakers, including Nadler and Pelosi, but Democrats have so far declined to read it, saying they want the entire report released to a wider audience.

Republicans have objected to Nadler’s demands and say the staff questioning is unnecessary. They argue that Democrats are trying to have impeachment hearings without going through the official process of impeachment.

WATCH: Barr: Trump trying to prevent criticism of himself ‘isn’t a crime’





“Chairman Nadler sabotaged his own hearing,” Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., said after Barr canceled. “That’s sad. Because now Republicans and Democrats are not going to be able to question Bill Barr.”



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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu
RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA

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Harris accepts VP nomination

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Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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